King Raam took the stage at the Black Cat Thursday night, and immediately recognized he had drawn a “home crowd.”
Raam addressed the audience directly in Farsi, and indeed the very crowded room presented him with a robust audience of DC Persian music enthusiasts who responded in kind.
I of course don’t speak Farsi, so my observations on Raam’s performance are limited mostly to his musical skill and capabilities. I will say however that Raam, visiting DC on a brief US tour from Tehran, was a magnetic presence to the audience, who swayed respectfully in place, hypnotized by his rhythms.
King Raam performs in Toronto as a part of Tirgan 2011 Festival. (Photo by Reza Vaziri)
King Raam, the lead singer of Iranian band Hypernova, has gone solo. In doing so, he’s been indulging a taste for psychedelic melodies and exploring solitary journeys through video imagery.
Now based in Tehran, King Raam is hitting four dates in the United States along the east coast, starting at the Black Cat on Thursday, August 27. (The tour will include a stop in New York, traditional home to Hypernova.)
Singing in both Farsi and English, Raam is encouraging progressive music in his homeland, releasing the album Songs of the Wolves in 2011, and a new single “Closing Credits” only last month.
Watch the video for “Closing Credits” on YouTube:
You can listen to and purchase Raam’s solo debut Songs of the Wolves on Bandcamp:
L.A.-based soul duo Smoke Season, consisting of Gabrielle Wortman and Jason Rosen, open for King Raam. Tickets are available online and at the door.
w/ Smoke Season
Thursday, August 27
Donald Cumming (Photo by Kat Villacorta)
Catching a show by Donald Cumming is sort of like hanging out with a casual friend that you really like and want to get to know better.
The unassuming former frontman of The Virgins visited DC from New York City to perform at Echostage Wednesday, opening for Brandon Flowers, himself a displaced frontman.
Donald performed his first single, “Game of the Heart,” singing of the struggles of love, fixed to the center of the stage with his guitar and surrounded by a simple but talented band — guitar, bass and drums, which spun jangly and affable psych rock.
The singer-songwriter is a very precise guitarist, taking care to craft intricate melodies that might sound a little bit like Elvis Costello or a little bit like Tom Petty on occasion. He’s perfectly relaxed and comfortable in his own skin, which lends itself to his own unhurried identity, however. Although Donald only started performing solo this year, we have to keep in mind indeed that he toured two albums with his former band before he officially gave up on the outfit in 2013.
Noel Gallagher: Still a rock star (Photo courtesy Black Arts PR)
Before the encore Thursday night at the Lincoln Theatre, the crowd started chanting his name.
“No-oel!” they shouted, elongating the single syllable of Noel Gallagher’s first name.
The sold-out theater was absolutely packed to the gills — and everyone was eager for more from the man they considered one of the top rock stars of all time.
When Noel Gallagher reemerged with his band, the High Flying Birds, the entire house erupted into cheers. But the man in the center of the stage struck a singularly humble pose and thanked the audience for their enthusiasm. He seemed a million miles removed from the chutzpah of the Britpop days that made him famous in Oasis, yet totally self-possessed of the moment, pleased to be received adoringly by those who came out to hear songs new and old.
He was happy to oblige them, and started his encore with Oasis’ “Masterplan” — a song which made the entire house dizzy with pleasure as they sang along every word in chorus.
The Church (Photo courtesy the band)
Somewhere in the midst of “Toy Head,” a new song by The Church from their latest album, I am struck how lead singer and bassist Steve Kilbey has really gotten into his zone.
It’s kind of a song about finding yourself, which is interesting given that the man in the center of it seems to be the most together man ever to step on stage at the 9:30 Club, where The Church performed for a very nearly sold-out audience Monday night.
Kilbey is calm, gracious and sharply self-aware. As he goes into the final few minutes of “Toy Head,” his bass reverberates with a distinctive psychedelic vibe that belies his own clipped, professional demeanor. He stands still, hypnotized into the zone of the music as he winds the song down.
But when Kilbey walks across the stage, he strides with swagger — like a rock god from distant shores who may be slumming in the States. The Australian quartet, which Kilbey cofounded with guitarist Peter Koppes, falls into a groove around him, along with a fifth touring member, as they come together for the next song, “Vanishing Man,” a single also from the new album, Further/Deeper, released in October of last year.
Steve Kilbey of The Church performs at the Aladdin Theater on Feb. 25, 2015. (Photo by Eric Evans)
Australian psych rockers The Church released their 25th (!) album in October 2014. The album, Further/Deeper, was produced and engineered by longtime member Tim Powles, who joined the band in 1994.
In support of the album, founders Steve Kilbey (vocalist and bass) and Peter Koppes (guitarist) bring their latest quartet, which includes new guitarist Ian Haug (also of Powderfinger), to the 9:30 Club tonight as a stop on their U.S. tour.
The addition of Haug apparently has reignited the band, which garnered quite positive reviews for the latest album. Listen to “Vanishing Man,” a track from the new album Further/Deeper from The Church:
Still, here in the United States, The Church are forever best known for the banner single from their fifth album Starfish: Under the Milky Way.
Here are The Church playing the song live in Sydney in 2013:
Given that The Church may have been on the verge of breaking up a few years ago, before finding new life, new energy and a new guitarist, this is an excellent opportunity to see them in a rare DC appearance.
New York City-based chamber pop collective The Sharp Things open for The Church. Tickets are available online and at the door.
w/ The Sharp Things
Monday, March 9
Paperhaus is a band in touch with its feelings.
And those feelings often manifest themselves in six-minute songs that project the majesty of a space or an idea — “Mountains are moving high against wide sky,” vocalist Eduardo Rivera sings by way of example on the very new “Untitled.”
In that way, Paperhaus often wear their prog-rock influences on their sleeve. The band’s ethereal and lengthy guitar riffs and often-mystical references certainly *smack* of King Crimson or early YES but its winning formula of two guitars, bass and drums and a love of jamming out feed their self-described psychedelia. Lyrically, Paperhaus explore topics like the joy of being alive or the pain of lost love.
The band debuted some new songs backstage at the Black Cat on Tuesday, Dec. 9, opening for Jamaican Queens. The kicked off with “Untitled,” a selection from their self-titled debut album set for release in February. “Untitled” seems to celebrate being alive with references to a bit of religion and a bit of nature, and the pleasant, ambling guitar work couples well with Eduardo’s airy, soft voice.